AN event on the history of the lower Ormeau Road is to be held this Saturday evening at Glór na Móna.

The event which is entitled ‘The History of the Lower Ormeau Road 1970-2000: poverty, parade and Irish language revival’ will be presented by the organisation's Community Projects Officer Eoghan Ó Garmaile. 

Central to the presentation, which is based on Eoghan’s Masters dissertation and research at Queen’s University, is the connection between the ‘‘harsh social conditions in the area and community campaigns to address these conditions".

Ahead of Saturday's talk I spoke with Eoghan on what the event entails and why he picked this area of the city and its history to be central to his research. 

‘‘Little has been written on the rich history of the area and whatever has been written by historians has generally overlooked the importance of the worsening social conditions particularly regarding the emergence of the campaign to reroute loyal order parades from the area," he said. "This particular campaign gained a national and international reputation for this tiny enclave.

‘‘All the while during these community campaigns to challenge the socio-economic deprivation in the area, the Irish language found a ripe environment there to revive and grow.

‘‘The paper demonstrates how this was no mere coincidence, but that the revival of the Irish language was inextricably linked to the community’s empowerment and campaigns around the socio-economic deprivation there.

‘‘Many community activists working in the Lower Ormeau during this period described their work and what they saw in the area as very similar to projects they had been involved in in Ballymurphy and other socio-economically disadvantaged areas in West Belfast.’’

The event will include a powerful video on the Lower Ormeau Road history as well as a bilingual presentation by Eoghan on the night. 

The film entitled Invasion includes footage put together by international observers of a loyal order parade through the area, a protest to reroute it and the way in which the RUC dealt with the protest in August 1999.

Eoghan said: ‘‘It is significant as this would be the last loyal order parade through the area and it gives an emotional visual of life in the Lower Ormeau during this period.

‘‘At the same time the film indicates the way the Northern state dealt with the community during this period, it also demonstrates the community's resolve and conviction to improve their situation.’’

The community lecture and film showing is the first that Eoghan has organised in his new role as Oifigeach Tionscadail Pobail (Community Projects Officer) at Glór na Mona. 
As part of Eoghan’s new role, which is supported by the Rank Foundation, he is responsible for ‘‘supporting and developing our participatory democracy programmes, as defined by the organisation's motto of 'Páirteachas, Polaitíocht agus Pobal' ('Participation, Politics and Community')".

‘‘Such programmes and projects include a new podcast series Glórtha Ciotacha (Awkward Voices), a community lecture series and film club, local environmental and heritage projects and our community festivals including our forthcoming Féile na Carraige which will take place in the third week in October.’’

Saturday’s event will see a relaunch of Glór na Móna's community lecture series as well as their film club Scannáin na Carraige, with Eoghan confirming that there will be many more to come.

The event takes place this Saturday at 7pm in Gael-Ionad Mhic Goill on the Whiterock Road.